President Barack Obama pauses while speaking during an event on Oct. 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

‘No wonder the guy is so unpopular’

David Letterman’s monologue last night included some observations that stood out for me:
“This is what happens when we have the midterm elections. The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama. That’s a lonely, lonely gig being president, ladies and gentlemen.
“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”
As the saying goes, it’s funny because it’s true.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/5/14, 10:59 PM ET

Compromise unlikely from GOP built on opposing Obama

Rachel Maddow points out that despite the Beltway’s acceptance at face value of Republican talk of cooperation and compromise, the proven electoral success of the Republican strategy of opposing President Obama at every step makes cooperation unlikely.
In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, respondents were asked, “All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?” The good news: the “right direction” number inched to a six-month high. The bad news: the overall results were lopsided, with 63% of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track, and only 27% believing the opposite. Other recent national polling found very similar results.
And with so much of the country in a dour, pessimistic mood, much of the electorate is blaming President Obama, whether or not that makes sense.
Indeed, over the last several months, countless hours of attack ads have aired, hammering home a simple Republican message: “You should hate the president and vote accordingly against everyone in his party.” The pushback from Democrats, defending the president and the White House’s popular policy agenda? Well, that never really happened this year. The political results were predictable.
But this only helps underscore why Letterman’s quip is memorable: there’s reason for some national optimism. Voters just haven’t heard much about it.
In her latest Washington Post column, Rachel highlighted the role of fear as a campaign theme this year, adding, “For all the end-of-the-world clamor around this year’s elections, you’d never guess that the economy is growing at 3.5 percent, unemployment is below 6 percent and gas prices are way, way down. Even Halloween candy was cheap this year. But good news, schmood news. This year, we’ve decided to be miserable and afraid.”
At this point, I’m not even sure what conditions would have to look like for the mainstream to see the nation as being on the right track. We have falling unemployment, increasing growth, rising stock indexes, a shrinking deficit, and increasing economic confidence. More Americans are gaining access to affordable medical care. More Americans are graduating from high school and entering higher ed. Gas prices keep dropping. Even the federal response to the Ebola threat has turned out to be pretty darn effective, and Joni Ernst’s opinions notwithstanding, only one guy in the country actually has the virus.
Putting aside whether the White House gets credit for any of the developments, what exactly would a country moving “in the right direction” look like? Shouldn’t current conditions meet that standard?

Barack Obama

'No wonder the guy is so unpopular'